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For most age groups, the overall rate of divorce has flattened over the years. However, older Americans in long-term marriages have been seeking a divorce, and this has increased the gray divorce rate.
This phenomenon is referred to as gray divorce.
Irrespective of how old you are or how long you've been married, divorce is always a difficult situation. However, there are some warning signs of gray divorce if you are an older adult considering divorce after a long-term marriage.
Some of the reasons for divorce include greater life expectancies, greater financial independence for women, and, surprisingly, better health. These are the basic reasons why lots of the spouses are contemplating ending unhappy marriages rather than fighting for them.
And while a married couple should always make every attempt to resolve marital issues, there are some situations that simply cannot be fixed. So here are 10 signs that indicate it's probably time for you and your other half to part ways.
Warning Signs of Gray Divorce
When spouses lose respect for each other
Irrespective of how much material wealth you've accumulated, there's nothing that can compensate for not respecting or liking your other half. However, if you don't particularly like the way your partner is acting, you probably exhibit some bad behavior as well. Some of those bad characteristics include being passive-aggressive, withholding, and criticizing your spouse.
So the question is, do you really want to spend your golden years with the person that brings out the worst in you? The answer is, it's better to move on and enjoy your own company than secretly loathing the person you share a home with.
Worries about getting older
If you constantly look for ways to avoid one-on-one sessions with your spouse, or the thought of growing old with your other half fills you with dread and terror, then we'd say you really have a problem on your hands.
This is especially if you can't be alone with your partner. If that's the case, then how are you going to cope when either one or both of you start showing signs of physical or mental decline?
Your kids want you to get a divorce
Your adult children are probably the only people in the world that know your marriage better than someone else on the outside looking in. Additionally, they may have a more objective perspective than you. So if your kids are concerned about your well-being and are trying to convince you to get a divorce, then it's worth considering their advice.
This is especially after considering whether you can live out the rest of your life feeling estranged from your partner, feeling miserable, or contending with unending conflict. In most cases, either one spouse or the other will feel comfort after receiving permission from an adult child to end what is an unhealthy marriage, in everyone's opinion. In this case, spouses don't have to feel guilty about dismantling the family.
You are no longer intimate with your spouse
The truth is that an older couple is not as sexually active as they might have been when they were a younger couple. However, when lack of intimacy becomes a pattern, then it's surely a sign that either one or both people have emotionally detached themselves from the marriage.
While there are ample tools, resources, and sex therapy that can help to remediate these issues, sexual disconnection over a period of years is difficult to overcome.
Your unhappiness is affecting your health
If your marriage issues are related to mental illness, untreated addiction, or domestic abuse, then emotionally and physically, it's going to wear you down. So ultimately, as a last resort, if your other half refuses to pursue treatment or refuses to respond to it, then there may be no other choice than to end the marriage in order to protect yourself.
It should also be noted that losing your sanity and your dignity for holding onto your troubled marriage is not worth it. However, in the case of domestic violence, a safety plan is advisable before exiting.
Your plans for your future have changed
If you have adult children or perhaps the last child who has gone off to college, you're considered an empty-nester. The benefits of empty-nesters are that they have the money to change how they live.
So it is irrespective of whether your plans include changing careers, moving across the country, or traveling to exotic destinations in your golden years, your visions should include your spouse as well.
Additionally, their requirements and desires should be included in your plans, and if it isn't or doesn't line up with yours, then it's an indication that you'll likely be doing the exotic traveling on your own.
When it comes to personal obligations to the household, it's not uncommon for couples to have an unfair and uneven split. In the majority of cases, although both spouses have worked, one spouse is always more likely to do extra work around the house, including caring for the kids and cooking. Even in retirement, one spouse may have an expectation over the other to continue doing all of the work around the house while the other does very little.
So, in this case, if you anticipate your time revolving around serving your other half hand and foot while they refuse to assume any responsibility, then your golden years may be happier and less stressful after a divorce.
You've had it with your partner's bad habits
Everyone knows that the older you get, the more set in your ways you become. Therefore, what was once a minor irritation or personality quirk in your younger days, can eventually lead or end up being a defining characteristic?
So if one partner has had questionable politics, a bad temper of gambling issues throughout the years, and the other has struggled to turn a blind eye to it, then the next step should very well be one to put an end to your misery.
This is as opposed to living out your golden years in absolute unhappiness and feeling trapped or hoping for an independent future.
You only stayed together for the kids
The situation is a bit different from the empty-nesters scenario. Perhaps you had a rocky point a few years ago, but you and your spouse decided to stay together for the sake of the kids because you didn't want to traumatize them.
This is a familiar and all too common scenario in many relationships, and somehow, even after the kids move out, couples stay together out of convenience or habit.
However, once retirements hits and you realize that you've got to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with this person and having no one else around, you may very well realize that it's time for a change.
Irrespective of whether you are in a new marriage or you've been married for the last 50 years, money issues are definitely going to be a thorn in your side. However, if it persists after a lifetime of marriage, then the pressures are compounded.
Ultimately, it can be compared to pouring gas in a fire when one partner is the primary or sole breadwinner in the home and the other has trouble keeping a budget. Additionally, when one partner chooses to make an investment decision without including or consulting the other and ends up losing the money, it's basically a fast track to divorce court.
Financial mistakes simply cannot be overlooked, especially when you are approaching retirement, and there's simply no time or room for this. For many couples, this leads to divorce.
The Verdict: Professional Help is Out There
In most cases, the partner who opted for the gray divorce would have a much easier time dealing with it. On the other hand, the husband and wife who did not will have a problem coping. This is because, in most cases, one partner has been planning to leave for quite some time, and as a result, they've already worked through many of the issues especially emotional ones, that are needed to make things official.
The truth is not all gray divorces are the same. Some couples may choose to end an unhappy marriage and go their separate ways mutually. On the other hand, it's quite painful when one spouse had an affair, and this is the reason for the divorce. The feelings of betrayal, depression, and low self-esteem can take a long time for gray divorcees to recover from fully. This is even with the support of family and friends.
Healing after a gray divorce cannot happen after a day, week, or even a year. Ultimately, it takes time and a different amount of time for each individual.
If you are struggling while faced with a later-life divorce, there are experts who specialize in these matters and can help make the transition easier, so feel free to reach out.